About 450 million people worldwide live with consistent mental health disorders, which are among the leading causes of ill-health, disability, and mortality worldwide. Dedicating this episode to not only celebrate but educate as well, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen go in-depth about mental health this World Mental Health Day 2020. They talk about the importance of having a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, highlighting how our mental state is just as important as our physical state. They discuss the framework of entrepreneurship in relation to mental health, how different we perceive the world then, during childhood, to now as adults, and the world’s addiction to hustle culture, measurements, productivity, and efficiency. Sit with Jason and Whitney today and allow yourself to regain a sense of balance with your mental state amidst a world that’s chaotic and uncertain.
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World Mental Health Day 2020: Getting In Touch With Our Mental State As Adults Navigating An Uncertain Environment
We are dedicating this episode to talk about the World Mental Health Day 2020. Every year, World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th. It was originally started in October 1992. It was started by an organization called the World Federation for Mental Health. This is interesting because as much as Whitney and I are super passionate about dedicating a big portion of this show, our mission with our brand Wellevatr to talking about holistic solutions and open vulnerable discussions about mental health, I had never heard of this organization before. It was like, “I didn’t know there was this massive international organization.” Their collective mission in starting World Mental Health Day back in ‘92 that has continued is to educate people about the breadth and the depth of our global mental health crisis.
I don’t necessarily use that word lightly, Whitney. When we talk about a crisis, it seems like a heavy loaded word to use that. One of their missions is to talk about the fact that about 450 million people around the world live with consistent mental health disorders and that these are among the leading causes of ill-health, disability and mortality worldwide. It’s a big thing and I wanted to use this as a jump off point to talk about it. It’s not necessarily to rehash a lot of the stuff that we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about Suicide Prevention Day. We’ve talked about both of our personal struggles with some mental health issues whether it’s body dysmorphia or anxiety, clinical depression or suicidal ideation. We have talked at length in previous episodes.
I was digging deeper, Whitney, because I knew we’re going to dedicate to this subject and I found some cool stuff that not only this organization is doing, but some other organizations. I don’t know if you remember years ago but at the Natural Products Expo, we visited the Hope Hummus booth in the basement over at the Anaheim Convention Center. I remember one of the coolest things that they were doing was Hope Hummus was collaborating with an organization called Hope For The Day. They had this whole campaign around having more open conversations about being proactive in our communities with mental health and breaking the silence and the stigma.
I dug a little deeper that and I found that Hope For The Day launched an awesome collaboration with Demi Lovato, DJ Marshmello and Kevin Love. Kevin Love is a basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. We’ve mentioned him in previous episodes. I think it’s fucking cool that all of these celebrities are collaborating with these organizations to not just increase the awareness but do some creative stuff around mental health. Have you seen any of this stuff? Have you heard the latest song that came out?
I have not.
It’s a good song and apparently, they took the hashtag the slogan that Hope For The Day put out a few years ago with Hope Hummus which is #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay. They did a song by that title called OK Not to Be OK. It’s a great music video. It’s a damn good song. It’s fun. It’s deep too. I remember a few years ago Demi Lovato came out with her struggle with addiction and suicide. I think in 2019 at the Grammy’s, she did one of the best performances I’ve ever seen at the Grammy’s. She sang the song and it was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The cool thing about this is this article on Billboard Magazine.
I mentioned Kevin Love, the NBA player and he did an hour-long Q&A on Twitter with Demi Lovato and with Marshmello. They answered people’s questions about their struggles with mental health which I thought was cool that they did this. Talking about rest, self-care, emotional health and how to handle this with their family. There were a lot of wonderful responses on this Twitter thread. I feel that this is progressive on many levels. Sometimes you see celebrities taking up a cause and it doesn’t feel authentic and you’re like, “They’re doing this to present themselves in a good way for the public or they have a foundation that they’re trying to funnel money to.”
There’s something energetic about this mental health conversation that the athletes, leaders, celebrities and musicians that I see participating in this, I think it’s because they’ve had direct experience with mental health issues, depression, suicidal ideation and the things we mentioned. It feels more authentic to me when I see these types of conversations. It’s a good song. It’s a cool Twitter thread. I was super excited as I dug in around Mental Health Day. I was like, “There are some creative projects going on.”Sometimes, our mental health makes it challenging to take care of our physical health and vice versa. Click To Tweet
To piggyback and I know I’m talking a lot, but I want to throw a bunch of stuff out there. There are also some cool resources coming out, which you and I have been discussing around the ethical use of responsible technology to support people’s mental health. I feel like I’m excited talking about this because there is so much going on that I didn’t know about. It makes me want us to think of creative ways that you and I can contribute to this conversation. I don’t know what that is right now, but music is a great touchstone and jump off point. I’m feeling giddy now. I was tired before we started and now I’m like, “This stuff is cool.”
That also reminds me of a couple of things. One is on the authenticity side of things when it comes to artists who are doing work based on their own struggles with mental health. One of them is Ryan Tedder who started the company Mad Tasty, a line of CBD, sparkling water and beverages. The company started a series called the Mad Tasty Sessions. I’m one of the people involved with it and that’s exciting because Mad Tasty is one of my favorite companies. I’m a big fan of CBD and there are many CBD companies out there that feel trendy. One of the things I like about Mad Tasty is that Ryan Tedder talks openly about his struggles with anxiety and mental health and the stress of being in this huge band, a successful songwriter, producer and all the other roles he plays in the music industry.
It makes me think about how many people in that industry or any creative types are struggling with these things. Unless they speak out about it, we don’t know what they’ve been going through. I had mentioned in an episode how I watched the Paris Hilton documentary and I felt the same way about that. It’s easy to think that successful people don’t struggle, even though on some level we know that. If they don’t talk about it authentically, it’s easy to fall into this assumption that we’re alone and that we’re struggling because we’re not as successful as them. If we were to get to that level of success, maybe we wouldn’t struggle.
Going back to Mad Tasty, they asked me to come on as somebody to speak about wellbeing. I tried to approach it from this aspect of daily wellbeing. I’m finishing up a PDF about how to create a routine that can help you feel less anxious and stressed. That was all inspired by this project that I did with them. With Mad Tasty, we did an Instagram TV video. You can watch that and I gave five tips for creating a wellbeing routine. I created a PDF offshoot of that that you can read and download it for free.
The other thing that this reminds me of is something that popped up in my email inbox. It’s funny how we’re starting this off talking about music artists and I wonder what that correlation is. I feel that musicians seem to be a little bit more open about talking about these things. I wonder, “Does that mean that they’re struggling with it more? Is there more pressure in the music industry? Is that just what we’re paying attention to?” I got this email from this organization called Hip Hop Public Health and they are trying to improve health literacy, inspire behavior change and promote health equity. They’re based in New York City. This organization was founded in Harlem in 2006 with the mission to empower youth and families around the country and the globe with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices reducing preventable health conditions. They’ve got this whole research team that helps them and they work with socially conscious music artists and public health experts to create scalable, highly engaging, culturally relevant music and multimedia edutainment tools, as they call it.
They have people like Chuck D, DMC of Run DMC and Jordin Sparks. It looks like Ariana Grande has been involved and I bet you that’s going to continue to grow. I think it’s neat and I don’t think that their timing was specifically around World Mental Health Day. It seems that they’re focused on the other elements of health, but it all ties in together. Sometimes our mental health makes it challenging to take care of our physical health and vice-versa. Sometimes when we’re struggling physically, our mental and emotional health can go by the wayside. From a holistic approach, it’s important to be as educated as possible about all different elements of our health.
I love you brought up the holistic part of this because I think it’s important to acknowledge that we can’t address this with a myopic singular approach. I get a little bit frustrated when I see and I know I’m coming from a good place when people do this, but when they make suggestions on social media of what other people ought to do for their mental health like, “Maybe you need to go to therapy. Maybe you need a counselor. Maybe you need to be on an antidepressant.” We’re the first to admit that neither Whitney nor I are medical professionals.
We are both people that are dedicated to research. We love reading scholarly articles and researching this stuff having both struggled with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia and all the things that we’ve talked about. I suppose it’s one of those things whereas we, and I mean not just Whitney and I, but we as individuals and to you as well, dear readers, it almost feels like when we make an approach to be more well or attempt to heal some of our personal issues, the knowledge and the experience that we gain with those things enable us to assist others.
That’s how I feel about it. I don’t feel that this conversation will ever be “over” with us talking about all these issues because it’s so layered. You talked about physical health and mental health and how those are intertwined, but we also have to look at the economic realities of that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and there are so many economic struggles. There’s a greater divide between the wealthy and the poor and the stress that people are going through trying to make ends meet. That contributes to mental health. Not having access to fresh and clean food in inner-city environments that are food deserts.
One of the biggest things too that they talk about for World Mental Health Day is looking at how we can reform the healthcare system. Because often when we get reform cuts or the money’s taken out of certain government programs, a lot of people are left extremely vulnerable. When I say the word vulnerable, not in a good way because they don’t necessarily have the ability to afford $100 a session for a therapist if that’s not subsidized by some government programs. This is such a complicated discussion. We cracked open this discussion for World Mental Health Day, but I guess one of the things I want to talk about too is this ongoing discussion of technology.
There are a lot of articles that have come out since 2018 about cutting the bullshit with entrepreneurs and investors and VC people in startup companies. There’s a lot of information about how a lot of entrepreneurs are either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all with mental health issues. It’s an interesting thing because I feel that it takes a certain kind of personality to want to be an entrepreneur and want to run your own business because there’s a shit ton of uncertainty. You’re constantly in a feast or famine mode. Sometimes I wonder if choosing to work for myself in the last 10, 11 years has made my mental health struggles worse. Do you ever think about that like, “There are all these advantages and there are great things that have come from us working for ourselves?” You and I talk about that, but do you ever think the framework of entrepreneurship, in general, is not conducive to mental health or is that too much of a sweeping generalization?
I think it’s more an issue of how entrepreneurship has been positioned. I think about this quite often and I have been posting a lot on Instagram about this because it certainly came up for me a lot during my road trip when I was listening to some audiobooks. Three in particular stood out to me. I posted about these three books on Instagram. One is called Do Nothing. The other one is called Stillness Is the Key and the third is called The Pursuit of Perfect. I’ve been reading and studying about this for most of 2020. It’s been a big interest of mine. I’ve talked a little bit about this program I’ve been working on called Beyond Measure that’s based around all of this. It’s inspired by my struggles with the hustle culture, productivity, efficiency and perfectionism.
Especially for Millennials and younger generations or any generation around this time of self-discovery and paving your own path, the people under 50 years old are drawn to that. I certainly don’t mean to say it’s a specifically age-related thing, but I’ve noticed it especially with women in their 30s and younger and men as well. I think it’s because each of us has been developing our sense of selves and developing our careers around this time of social media. With all this exposure that we have, we start to see many other people that we can compare ourselves to and what they’re doing and fall into the comparison trap and into that hustle culture. We have done a whole episode on hustle culture and it comes up often as the subject matter. That was focused on some of the hustle culture research.
I referenced a few articles that were enlightening for me. I remember vividly discussing it. When we are talking about the hustle culture, I was noticing how much I’ve been impacted by it like how there’s something about my age range that has been impacted. There are also great books. We’ve talked about this one called Selfie that talked about this generation of how we were raised by our parents. The long-winded answer to your question, Jason, is that our parents and our education system were pushing us towards almost like an ego-based approach to our lives. Simultaneously, we’re very much about measurement and getting good grades in order to get into the right college because then maybe we would have a higher chance of getting a good job.
If we have the right job, then we can get enough money. For me, when I was studying film production and going into a career as a filmmaker, it was about all of that. In high school, I was taught or told that if I wanted to be a successful filmmaker, my best chance of being that was to go to the right college or university. I tried my hardest to get the right grades so I could get accepted into those colleges and I didn’t get into the one I wanted. I went to another one, which ended up being great and much of that school was about proving yourself and pushing yourself and not just being an artist, but networking and finding that great job.
There was all this pressure when I moved to Los Angeles because I was finishing up my final semester of college. It was all about like, “What internship you had and if you got the right internship, then you get the right job. If you just played your cards right, you could have this dream career.” I hustled in that world for a long time and found myself feeling unhappy because it wasn’t about my passion for filmmaking. It was now this push to be productive.
Not only did I have a full-time job, but I also eventually had a part-time job. In addition to both of those, I was trying to make short films on the side. I was always trying to create and make money so I could pay my bills and then network while I was at these jobs and figure out how to work my way through the industry. It was exhausting. I then started my work with Eco-Vegan Gal and I got passionate about that so I quit those jobs. It then became about being an entrepreneur and trying to make money while doing this passion of mine, which was far less stressful I think in hindsight, Jason. As hard as it is to run your own business, the reward has generally been worth it versus when I was working full-time and trying to hustle my way through this industry. That was exhausting.
On the other hand, I will say that when I started Eco-Vegan Gal, it was at the very early stages of what social media now is. As we’ve talked about before, especially in our episode about The Social Dilemma Documentary, when I started the Eco-Vegan Gal in 2008, blogging was a thing, but social media wasn’t a thing. It was slowly becoming a thing. As I’m getting my feet wet and creating this foundation in that world, everything started to change. I don’t think I was in the hustle culture mentality quite yet with my current career at that point. I was coming out of the old version of the hustle culture that I had for the film industry and then moving slowly into a new version of hustle culture.As adults, we assume that because we're older, we have more control. Click To Tweet
I think social media played a huge role because suddenly I’m seeing all of these other people doing what I’m doing so there’s this pressure to stay on top and be relevant and that’s relatively new as well, Jason. I’m curious about your experience as a chef. I do remember you and I having conversations about our contemporaries and there were only a couple people we could think of years ago that felt like they were “competition.” They were that comparable to us. There were a couple of people for me in 2013 and it was like, “They’re similar to me. I have to differentiate myself.”
It probably wasn’t until closer to 2015 that suddenly I’m seeing all these other people who are comparable to me. I think I’ve spent the last few years feeling a mixture of all these feelings of comparison and then the desire not to compare myself and the desire to fit in versus the desire to stand out and be unique. That push and pull have been probably where the exhaustion has hit me. I don’t think it’s necessarily about entrepreneurship, which is the short answer to your question after a long-winded response.
It’s a hard thing to answer for me, Whitney. I’ll try and answer it as succinctly and clearly as I can. When I got out of culinary school in 2005, we had Myspace and then Facebook was in its infancy. It was an embryonic version of the juggernaut it is now. I remember right before I moved from Detroit to LA in 2005, I was watching the first season of The Next Food Network Star competition. I remember that season was the year Guy Fieri won. He was the first season one winner of The Next Food Network Star. Right now, Guy Fieri is huge. He is a gigantic brand. Whether you like him or not, he’s done very well for himself. There were not the avenues, portals and the mechanisms of becoming “internet famous” or becoming a celebrity or whatever, in this case, a chef like there were back then. It was you needed to write a bestselling cookbook or you needed to get a show on Food Network. That was it.
Now you go on and you look at any style of food, not just in our world with veganism and plant-based food. If you look at keto, paleo, 80/10/10, juicing, detoxing, barbecue and pretty much damn near any style of cuisine or culinary art, there are people that you could consider “celebrities” from their following online. One of the things that I felt motivated by was when you and I started our YouTube channels. I started mine in 2009. There were few people doing vegan recipes online and putting out consistent video content. I remember the people that I did watch back then, respectfully, they bored the shit out of me.
It was like, “This is how you make a tagliatelle.” I was like, “This is boring. I want to make it fun and wacky.” Do it like stand-up comedy-ish like improv weirdness and be myself and do recipes. I don’t remember what her name is, but there’s another person who does songs and improv and comedy with her recipes. Someone tagged me like a month ago and they’re like, “She’s your female doppelganger.” I’m like, “I was doing this shit years ago.” I’m bored with it because there are so many people doing it now. I don’t feel like I have anything else to say after 350 YouTube videos, a cookbook and a half and all the stuff we’ve done. This is not an opportunity to review our curriculum vitae or resumes here. I think I’m burnt out, Whitney, because everybody in their Instagram is doing it now literally.
I’m like, “Another vegan chef, another influencer, another person.” Back in ‘08 and ‘09, it felt unique. I was excited because I didn’t see anybody else doing it. Now, I hate to use the word saturated because I think that gets thrown around too much. I think one of the reasons that I’m backing out of that industry is I don’t feel compelled to create in it anymore. Does the world need a 954th lasagna recipe? It’s been done. I’ve had people say like, “But none is doing it like you’re doing it.” I’m like, “Yes, they are.” I was doing it before them. I talked to our buddy, Chad Sarno, about this. Sometimes I know I’m getting tangential right now, but Chad’s whole thing is like, “We’ve been doing this way longer than most people in our industry. Someone comes in, they don’t pay any dues and a year later they’re huge.” He’s like, “Why? They didn’t pay any of their dues.” It’s a frustrating thing. I’m done for now.
The first thing is if we humble our egos, we can’t possibly know if we were the first to do something. We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and this whole idea of overnight success is never true. I think I’ve had to get humble with that because I felt that way plenty of times. Like getting my start back in 2008 and spending over ten years doing this work and seeing other people who get a viral video on TikTok or Instagram or whatever. Suddenly it seems like they’ve got it all handed to them, but we don’t know what’s gone on in their lives before that, what’s happened behind the scenes and what led them to that moment. There are many factors and we also never know what will happen for us. It doesn’t serve us to sit too much in that feeling because coming back to mental health, that alone can affect our mental health. Those people are probably struggling with it too.
The more that you see into other people’s lives as I mentioned some of these celebrities earlier like Ryan Tedder or Paris Hilton or Demi Lovato, when these people open up about their struggles, it’s sometimes easy to be like, “It sucks to be you. You’re super successful and you’re struggling with anxiety.” We can get in that place of comparison, but the reality is they’re trying to open up and show us that because they have all of those things doesn’t mean that they have these perfect lives. I think that that’s part of what made the Paris Hilton documentary interesting to me is she still is creating content that makes her look perfect but simultaneously admitting that she’s not. I’ve noticed this about friends of mine as well who have whatever level of influence, big or small. They fall into that trap of wanting to present themselves a certain way, but privately and behind the scenes admitting that they’re struggling.
There’s a disconnect because they don’t know how else to operate online. I’m included in this too. Every time I post something on Instagram these days, I don’t know why Instagram is especially challenging. I think it’s because many of us over the years had been trained that we will be rewarded if we do things a certain way and yet sometimes, we will follow all the rules. We will do things the way that we think we’re supposed to and still not get the results that we want. We’ll see other people getting those results by doing the same things and sometimes it seems like the results are bigger than ours or faster than ours. As you’re saying, we’ve paid all these dues and we don’t see evidence that they’ve paid the dues so we feel resentful because they’re getting things that we feel like we deserve before them.
I think that for our mental health, that line of thinking is not helpful at all. It can be incredibly detrimental. It leads us to a place of resentment which to me is similar to hatred and anger. It boils us and we end up feeling like, “Are we doing something wrong? Are we not good enough? Is someone better than us? Why are we missing out? We’re being left behind.” A lot of those emotions remind me of the things I experienced as a child. If we go back to our roots and connect with how we were feeling as kids when we felt less in control of our lives, I think maybe as adults, we assume that because we’re older, we have more control.
I heard this in a book I was listening to. It might’ve been Stillness Is the Key. One of the pieces of content I heard was saying how most of us are still operating as if we were seven years old. I think that envy, comparison, worthiness, resentment and frustration are often similar to what we felt when we were out of control. I think as adults, it doesn’t make sense to us because we think we’ve done everything right. If we still don’t get what we want, we’re kind of throwing emotional tantrums or falling into pits of despair.
I think I’m still prone at times to do that. You mentioned the word resentment. That’s something I still struggle with my mental health is egoic. It’s interesting you brought up control because it’s like in school, I remember the feeling of, “If I take these certain actions and I behave a certain way and I operate a certain way, I know that I’m going to get an A in this class.” I feel like it’s a microcosm of our youth and transposing that on our macro lives as adults as we get older. It’s almost like not gaming the system, but I know that if I treat the teacher this way and I put this much work in, I sit in the front of the class and I’m proactive and I raise my hand and I’m engaging, I felt like a lot of the time it wasn’t a guarantee so much as a feeling of like, “If I act this way, put in this much work, do these things and ‘play the game right,’ I know I’m probably going to succeed.”
That formula was repeatable in school, even in college. I remember specifically in this moment of being in a creative advertising class and looking around and going like, “I’m going to crush this. All I need to do is this, this, and this.” You get to be an adult and not just in the workforce, but in this case, we’re talking about entrepreneurship and you and I being creatives and being entrepreneurs. This pattern for me at least of remembering what it was like in my adolescence and my teens and twenties of, “If I do this, this and this and I know I can weigh the outcome in my favor, it ought to result in this thing that I want,” and it’s not true.
I found that the frustration that I feel is almost like an adolescent frustration of like, “This is bullshit because I did all the things as you mentioned and the result ought to be this.” It’s almost deprogramming that part of my brain that thinks or expects that if I just do things a certain way or make these connections or play the game right or put this level of hard work in and try and outwork everyone. That was another thing too is breaking that stigma, which we’ve talked about here. I remember as a kid in school remembering whether it was the track team or whatever class was like, “If I outwork everyone, I’ll do better than them.”
That most of the time worked, but now it’s like I’m looking around and this feeling of resentment of like, “I outworked you guys. I’ve been in the game longer. I’ve been doing more. Why are you more successful than me? This is bullshit.” It is deprogramming that part of me that wants to feel the resentment of like, “But I outworked you. I did more than you. I’ve been in this as longer. Why am I not getting the results?” It’s still a thing I struggle with. I haven’t fully shed myself of that emotional reaction sometimes. I still have trouble diffusing it and I’m glad you brought it up because it gets me to reflect on this thing of a formula or a system from my youth that I sometimes think ought to work as an adult and it doesn’t.
I think this ties back into these artists and celebrity figures we’ve talked about throughout this episode who are probably experiencing very similar emotions as you, Jason, but on a different level or their own version of it. Imagine the pressure that someone like Demi Lovato has felt throughout her life and being a childhood star and having all of these people that adore her and are waiting for her. She has record labels and all these other people in her life that are pressuring her to get things done and put out the next album. When’s the next song? When are you going to do this performance? How do you look? She’s talked a lot about her body image struggles and that whole industry pressuring women to be small and pretty. That is intense. I can relate to that, but I’m not at that place where I’m experiencing that quite intensely, I suppose.
I imagine as I talked about Ryan Tedder, he described how his anxiety was bad for their last album that came out in 2016. He could barely promote it because he was feeling so much anxiety and imagine the pressure of a record label. You have a new album and you’re touring the world. You’re experiencing that every day and you have millions of fans and all this money is on the line. That’s intense. You have to psychologically push yourself through it because it feels like a matter of yourself or your career. Also, with Paris Hilton, the other example I provided, she directly says in that documentary that she wouldn’t feel satisfied until she made a billion dollars and the documentary filmmaker asked her, “Why do you need to get there?” She said, “I think that’s what’s going to make me happy.”
She talked about how she used to feel that way about making a million or millions. She reached whatever financial level of success she wanted and still didn’t feel happy and thought to herself, “Maybe I need to make more.” It’s a cliche thing. I think we all experience that on different levels that, “If we will only get to this place with our careers, then we will feel satisfied.” We feel so much external pressure from the media or people around us or self-imposed pressure that’s been integrated into our minds for all these years that we feel so overwhelmed by it all. It’s hard to even operate. I think that’s a universal thing. The more that we can discuss it, the more relief I think we can feel in at least knowing that we’re not alone. It’s not about achieving something.Constant self-growth is cool, but we need to be a lot more self-aware of why we want it. Click To Tweet
Even with those achievements, the other side is that it can make us feel worse because there’s so much pressure that comes along with different levels of success. There’s data that says that people are happiest when they hit $95,000. I forget the exact amount. I’m sure it’s under $100,000 a year that they found you will not be any happier if you make more than this much amount of money. I wish that more people would talk about that. I think it’s an ongoing subject matter for us here on the show because it’s important to discuss. Even for us, we can discuss it every single day and still struggle with it. It’s not that saying these things out loud makes it any easier. It’s continuing that awareness and trying to retrain yourself and unlearn all these different elements of hustle culture and the addiction to productivity. The addiction to efficiency, success, metrics, measurements and knowing that none of those things will bring us happiness.
You mentioned that article. It was a study that came out in Nature Human Behavior. They did a study, a worldwide Gallup poll with a sample of 1.7 million individuals. It was $95,000 was the global income satiation point. It said $95,000 for life evaluation and between $60,000 and $75,000 annual income for emotional wellbeing, but there is substantial variation depending on where you are on the planet. It’s a long and geeky science article. They found that in North America specifically, it’s $105,000 and in other parts of the world like the Caribbean, it is $35,000 and it’s $125,000 in New Zealand.
The author of this, Andrew Jebb said, “There’s a certain point where your money seems to bring no more benefits to your wellbeing in terms of both your feelings and your self-evaluation.” Without getting too much into what I’ve earned over the years, I remember this idea that once I crossed a certain income threshold like you talked about Paris Hilton, I had my version of that. “Once I get to this number and that’s my adjusted gross income for the year, then I’ll have “made it,” whatever the fuck that means. I remember one year I passed that threshold by a significant margin and it was right around the time this study came out. I remember thinking about that year and I thought to myself, “Was I any exponentially more joyful, fulfilled, happy, powerful and in control?”
As I think about the year that I earned the most money so far in my life, I wasn’t exponentially happier. It wasn’t like, “This is the most joy, happiness, fulfillment and power I’ve ever felt in my life.” It felt like the year before that in terms of my baseline contentment and fulfillment. To piggyback on what you said, “Maybe you didn’t make enough. Maybe you need to double that.” It gets into the trap of the mentality of people, and I’m not throwing him under the bus like Grant Cardone. He’s in that Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, or whatever category where he’s like 10X everything.
It was like, “If you made $100,000, 10X that. You got to go to $1 million. If you made $1 million, you got to 10X to go $10 million.” It’s like, “Okay.” I remember after that experience and I think this was a few years ago when I hit this mark. I needed to sit with myself and say, “Why?” Because there was a part of me that’s like, “You need to 10X your life. Why be satisfied with this? Go for more.” I feel like that there’s a trap in this mentality sometimes of like, “Don’t be satisfied with where you’re at. Keep striving for more,” which on one hand constant self and self-growth is cool but I think we need to be a lot more self-aware of why we want it. Why is there this almost unquenchable desire to grow and succeed at all costs like, “This isn’t enough, I need to achieve more, I haven’t scaled my personal Everest yet,” and all those clichés?
I’m still sitting with this of like, “What am I motivated by in life? Is it constant and never-ending growth and improvement or is it okay at certain points in my life to sit back and go, ‘This is good. I’m good at this.’” You hear the cacophony of voices like, “You shouldn’t settle. You got too comfortable.” I’m curious how you feel about that balance between like, “This is good and I’m comfortable here.” I don’t mean comfortable in a bad way. It’s like, “I’m good,” versus, “There’s another level. You’ve got to go to another level.”
I think that it is a huge part of the capitalistic hustle culture and there’s nothing wrong with it, except that it could be detrimental to your mental health and completely burn you out. I guess if you consider that wrong, then perhaps there is something wrong with it. A lot of us in the entrepreneurship world have been hit over the head with that messaging. I remember when I quit my last full-time job in 2010, one of the first things I did was read Gary Vee’s book about social media. It was called Crush It!. A friend had given it to me that was really into Gary Vee’s work. I read it and I was like, “I’m going to crush it. I’m going to be everywhere. I’m going to be on every social media platform.”
I was for a while. I was churning out YouTube videos and blog posts and all different social media posts for many years to the point where now people often ask me where I am because I’m not doing that anymore. They’re used to me hustling so much. I got into people like Brendon Burchard and frankly, I’ve been thinking, “I don’t know if I feel in alignment with him anymore.” It feels weird to say because I was a gung-ho Brendon Burchard fan, for lack of a better word, follower or whatever you want to call it. I’ve been examining my emotional reaction to his newsletters, for example, and I never want to read them because they feel like a constant pressure to hustle.
I hope I am not wrong in saying this, but I’m fairly certain that he was one of those people that said things like, “If you don’t do this by the end of quarantine, then you’re wasting your time.” There were a number of people that were saying like, “If you’re not going to use this ‘extra time’ you have to hustle and get projects done, then what are you doing with your life?” I think he backtracked from that after a little while because I think many of us were thinking that COVID would be a short-term problem and that quarantine would not last very long or this physical distancing that we’ve been doing in the working from home. All of that was going to be short-lived. Now, here we are in September 2020 and not much has changed yet.
We might not technically be in quarantine anymore, but most of us are still working from home. Most of us are still physically distancing ourselves. We’re not back to what life was like previous to this and we may never be. There was this desire at the beginning of all of that to utilize this perceived extra time to get things done but many of us were simultaneously feeling exhausted. That’s certainly how I felt in March and April. All I wanted to do was sleep and rest and I was feeling like I was getting cultural permission to not work as hard and to take good care of my health. Hearing those messages from people like Brendon and I could be wrong, he might not have been one of the people saying these things.
I don’t mean to throw Brendon under the bus. It’s my perception of him. Whether I’m lumping him into some category or not, it felt like people like him were saying so much of these things that I wanted to distance myself from them. I remember feeling that way even previous to COVID impacting the United States. In January 2020, I was starting to feel burned out and I was starting to wish I had more time. I was starting to wish I had permission to slow down. I think that was part of what I was experiencing in March and April was like, “Everybody’s slowing down right now. It’s okay for me to do that too.” Raising my awareness about that and noticing how I have been conditioned to go and hustle all the time and take advantage of every moment. This is one of the big messages, if not the crucial message of that book, Stillness Is the Key. One of the things that you were saying reminded me of a section of that book where Ryan Holiday is talking about Tiger Woods.
He’s a great example. When you hear what this man went through in his life, it’s shocking because many of us perceived him as this phenomenal athlete. He went through a crazy experience and suddenly he’s somebody we never thought he was. I don’t keep up with him enough to know that much so I’m listening to this book. Hearing about his childhood and how hard his dad pushed him and how his dad set an example of being a womanizer. I think he was drinking a lot or doing a lot of drugs or something like that. He was simultaneously pushing his son to be an extraordinary athlete but in such an extreme way where they would constantly be working on Tiger’s craft. They had to develop a safety word that Tiger could say when he was being pushed too hard and his word was enough. He would have to say to his dad, “Enough.” What’s that phrase when you’re playing around and you tag out or whatever it is, Jason? There’s another word for it. It’s typically equated to boys like, “I’m tapping out,” but there’s another word for it.
I don’t know. My mind went to having a safe word during sex. Tapping out is the colloquial phrase. It came from like MMA or fighting sports of like when you give up, you literally tap the mat.
Surrendering or whatever. I guess that was the word that he would use in those moments. Tiger Woods would try so hard not to say that word that it became the E word. If he would say enough, it would be admitting defeat and weakness. It became a negative word in his mind. Ryan Holiday, the author of this book is saying how many of us struggle with that word enough. We don’t feel enough. Nothing ever feels good enough. We don’t have enough time. There’s so much of this scarcity and lack mentality. I find myself in that trap often. I was reflecting on it and I’m like, “Where did the day go?” I had all these plans. I had all these things I wanted to accomplish and suddenly I feel like I was able to partially accomplish one of those things. I’m sitting here feeling like a failure.
That in itself is the hustle culture. It is the productivity and efficiency addiction that we have. If we don’t get all of this stuff done and a certain timeline, the more failures and we’re not good enough and we’re weak and we’re tapping out. I think that’s a huge problem. Also, to tie it back into the inspiration for this conversation, this is a huge aspect of mental health. I think people are waking up to this slowly and there’s probably going to be a huge movement around this over time. We talked about this a bit discussing The Social Dilemma Documentary. I think there’s going to be a big movement of people going off of social media and limiting social media. Putting more boundaries on their phone through the apps that you can use or getting phones like The Light Phone.
They have The Light Phone 2 model that is out now.
I think that’s going to become a common thing or it could get worse and it might be both. It might be a big trend of people going offline and being more minimal. We’ve seen the minimalism trend rise a lot. We see a lot of people learning from these things and disconnecting, but I think we are also seeing in the youth. There’s a major addiction to social media for younger generations. There’s also the continuous addiction to this hustle culture, the measurements, the productivity and the efficiency. It might be like the two worlds colliding at a certain point or operating simultaneously where a lot of people are doing one or the other. I don’t know if one’s going to overpower the other, to be honest. It’s hard to tell.
I wanted to loop back. You were riffing so much on not just Brendon, but the tentacles of toxic capitalism, which is a subject we continue to talk a lot about. Because the more that I learn about some of these subtle subconscious motivations of how capitalism operates, at least the context of what we talk about as toxic capitalism, which is not a humanistic approach that honors the individual, their health, their mental health and rest and provides equal pay to women and minorities. There are a million different tentacles of this conversation, but you talked about this idea and it was Brendon who was talking about if you don’t spend this time maximizing the opportunity of quarantine, you’re wasting your time.Life is so much about your choice and what you decide to do with it. Click To Tweet
I did get those emails from him. Some other people kind of echoed that. I like Brendon for many reasons, but like you, I don’t resonate with his messaging. What are the antidotes to this hustle culture? What are the antidotes to some of the aspects of toxic capitalism that is profit and continued growth at all costs at the expense of human health? This article on TechCrunch about entrepreneurs and addressing the mental health crisis, specifically with entrepreneurs talked about that overall close to 20% of Americans will be diagnosed and suffer from some form of mental illness.
If we go deeper into entrepreneurs, there was an interesting study that a guy named Michael Freeman did. He found in this study that entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to report having mental health conditions. People who are founders, people who start-up companies not just employees, but people who are the founders or CEOs in this study were two times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from ADHD unattended symptoms, three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse and ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder. Twice as likely to have some sort of psychiatric hospitalization and two times higher the amount of suicidal thoughts.
Their whole position with this article is like, “It’s a catastrophe that’s happening with entrepreneurship that no one’s talking about in the mainstream.” That venture capitalists and entrepreneurs especially in the tech industry, it’s through blood, sweat, tears, passion, effort and working sixteen-hour days that you either succeed or fail. As you said earlier, with artists, there are billions of dollars at stake. We talked way at the beginning of this episode about some articles about Elon Musk’s work ethic and how he was like, “I sleep at the end of the assembly line and I’m working eighteen-hour days. I sleep three hours a night.”
I remember some people being like, “Elon, what a hero. I want to emulate him.” My reaction was we as a society is like, “Look at this amazing genius person and they’re sleeping on the assembly line. They’re only sleeping three hours a night. They are on Xanax. They’re taking uppers and they’re on all these drugs but look how successful they are.” Elon Musk is the third richest human on the planet. Wasn’t it all worth it? It’s a tough question to answer. I don’t want to single out Elon, but I remember all people freaking out about his work ethic when he described his day.
Some people aspiring to do it and it’s like, “Why? Is it because you want to be one of the richest people on the planet? Do you want to have a business that is trying to scale as much as Tesla?” I’m not saying anything’s right or wrong here, Whit. We’re both fans of Elon, but you wonder what he’s given up in terms of his personal health. You wonder what he’s given up in terms of his relationships. You wonder what he’s given up in terms of human connection to get to where he’s at. I think that there has to be a trade-off somewhere along the line. I don’t know that it’s possible to work that hard and achieve that level of financial, material and corporate success without letting other areas of your life fall away.
I think life is about your choice and what you decide to do with it. There’s a lot of pressure because I think it’s all wrapped up in the ego. It’s other people’s egos and our own egos about what’s right or wrong. What’s good or bad? It comes back to this black and white outlook on life. It makes us feel good to believe that we’re doing the right things and believing the right things. When we get into conflict with what other people believe about the right or wrong way to go about life. For example, if we’re busy hustling all the time and then someone like us comes along and says, “Hustle culture is bad for you.”
That can cause that conflict where either you’re going to defend what you’re doing and why it’s the right way and/or you feel awful and you think, “I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.” I’m such a failure and I messed up. If you’re feeling the ladder, you can either sulk in that and feel that defeat or you can start to shift and maybe try out a different way of living and see if it works for you. Even when you get there, you may discover it doesn’t feel 100% right. I think a lot about this in terms of parenting and as a woman with the “clock ticking” trying to decide, “Will I ever become a mother one day?” I observed my friends who are mothers and honestly, it seems hard. Being a mom, there’s a lot of sides of it that I’m not sure I want to do.
There are some sides of it that sound wonderful, but I don’t know if that’s the right path for me. I might decide not to be a mother and then regret it later on. I might decide to be a mother and regret that too. I don’t know and I guess that that decision reminds me that there’s no right or wrong. There is no path that’s going to be easier than another. If I did decide to be a mom, that might “take me away” from my work. That might make it harder to work. I think that’s one of the downsides of it, in my opinion, is that, “What would it do to my career?”
Because most of my friends that are moms don’t seem to have any time left for their career or the time that they do have is limited and changed. I already feel like I don’t have “enough time.” I can imagine bringing a child into this world and wanting to be present with that child. Even mindful parents I know still feel that they’re not present enough with their kids. It does come down to that feeling of enoughness. At the end of the day, we may never feel like we have enough time, no matter what our circumstances are.
Going back to my hopes at the beginning of 2020 of like, “If only I could pause for a little while. If only I had a week to get things done.” We’re put into quarantine and suddenly I did have all that extra time, but I didn’t do all of the things that people like Brendon Burchard were encouraging me to do because I wanted to sleep. I felt that way now too. When I woke up, I woke up later than I would have liked to. I jumped into the day and started thinking, “I don’t have enough time,” but the truth is I needed that sleep. Something has to give at a certain point. I don’t know if my day would have been any more satisfying if I had woken up earlier. I probably still wouldn’t have felt like I had enough time.
I think if we can come to this awareness of it’s never going to feel enough and so maybe life is enough regardless of whether we perceive it as being enough or not. The enoughness is there. We’re inherently enough. We’re inherently worthy as human beings. We don’t need to measure ourselves based on our productivity, what we accomplish, how much money we make, how many followers we have and what our bodies look like. All of these things that we do that stress us out and wreak havoc on our mental health. If we could step back and say, “None of that matters anyway so if I can force myself to feel enough, maybe I will believe it.”
I think there’s a huge amount of liberation. For me, I think there’s a huge amount of mental and psychic space that’s created almost like liberation and openness when I stop giving my power away to things that I think are going to define me. We had an earlier episode about Bridges and Walls: What Titles and Labels Do To Us. If I diffuse the idea that I need this thing, I need a certain amount of money. I need a title. I need a certain number of followers like, “I need this thing.” I know for myself that if I come to a place, Whitney, of I’m okay whether I get it or not. The level of relaxation and ease I feel when I’m in that space, whatever the thing is does come, I’m able to enjoy it more because I’m not gritting my teeth on a white-knuckled ride trying to zoom toward the goal.
Also, if it doesn’t manifest or comes the way that I want it to, I’m okay either way. Whether or not this thing that I want happens, I’m okay either way. For me, it’s been undoing the programming of, “No. You fight until the end. Get that thing no matter what. That thing you want, don’t stop until you get it.” There’s been a lot of things in my life that I feel like I’ve been fortunate and I’m grateful to have received. There are other dreams that didn’t come true and may never come true. If I sit with it, I’m okay either way. I feel that this level of freedom and power is that I aim to try and be in that space with it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a preference. It doesn’t mean we strip away our preference. It doesn’t mean we strip away our desire, but it’s like whether or not this thing happens or “works out,” I know I’m going to be okay either way. I feel like I want to cultivate being in that space more in my life because it feels relaxed and good when I’m there.
It’s an ongoing journey. To you our reader, how are you feeling about what we’re digging into with this? We always love to hear from you whether it’s comments or whether it’s you sending us direct messages or emails. We always enjoy getting feedback from you whether it’s your mental health journey or your perspectives on self-care. If you’re an entrepreneur, an artist who maybe has been struggling with your mental health. With these episodes, in particular, I always love hearing any kind of feedback you may have. If you want to give us any feedback, you can do so on any of our social media channels. On all of the major ones, we’re @Wellevatr. Our direct email is [email protected]. We are checking it. We do not have a robot or AI checking those emails. It is Whitney and myself responding to you directly.
One of the things we love too is if there’s a particular topic or something you feel passionate about that you want us to jump into. We’ve done several episodes from suggestions we’ve received through email or direct message. If you’re a longtime reader or it’s your first episode, if there’s something that is burning in your mind and your heart that you want us to discuss, we’re always open to those suggestions. I think this is an ongoing discussion. As we said, at the beginning of this episode, mental health is such a nuanced, complicated and individualistic journey of physical, chemical, biological, genetic, societal and financial.
This is such a deep, complex journey of mental health that we certainly feel passionate about continuing to discuss and explore this for not only ourselves but as we’ve done here on this episode, sharing whatever resources that we have for you to help you with your mental health journey. We’ve got some cool things we would love for you to explore for free on our website to help you on your wellness journey. I know that this discussion is certainly not over with. It’s never over, but we hope that we shared with you some cool new resources to help and assist you on your journey.
Until next time. On an upcoming episode, Whitney, I want to give a little sneak preview. I want one of our future episodes to talk about dreams and dream interpretation and the subconscious and how that relates to mental health. I have some new insights and things to talk about the dream world and what it means for us as human beings. That’s an upcoming episode and we have some fantastic guests coming up talking about social media, parenthood and mental health. We have so much goodness to share with you. Stay tuned and we’ll catch you with another episode soon.
*We use affiliate links in our show notes. This means we receive a small sales commission if you purchase an item based on our recommendation.
- World Mental Health Day 2020
- World Federation for Mental Health
- Is Suicide Preventable? Removing the Stigma Around Mental Health Issues – Previous episode
- Hope For The Day
- OK Not to Be OK Music Video
- Kevin Love Moderates #OKNotToBeOk Mental Health Twitter Q&A With Demi Lovato and Marshmello – Billboard Magazine Article
- Mad Tasty
- Hip Hop Public Health
- Do Nothing
- Stillness Is the Key
- The Pursuit of Perfect
- The Dark Side of Hustle Culture, Woke Capitalism and Social Media Influence – Previous episode
- The Social Dilemma Documentary: A Closer Look at Social Media and Technology – Previous episode
- Happiness, Income Satiation and Turning Points Around the World – Nature.com article
- Crush It!
- Investors and Entrepreneurs Need to Address the Mental Health Crisis in Startups – TechCrunch article
- Bridges and Walls: What Titles and Labels Do To Us – Previous episode
- [email protected]
- Using Technology to Support Employee Mental Health – Forbes article
- Does Money Equal Happiness? It Does But Only Until You Earn This Much – USA Today article
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